Bartók APEX is a distillation of our past, present, and future—30 years of innovation in a single beautiful, flexible, and futureproof chassis embodying the essence of dCS. Combining a DAC, Music Streamer, Upsampler, Pre-amp, and (optional) Headphone Amplifier, the Bartók APEX offers a singular experience for headphone and stereo listeners. Now with the APEX Ring DAC, our next-generation DAC hardware, we’ve once again redefined the state-of-the-art for digital audio. This upgrade allows us to take Bartók world-leading measured performance to a new level—technology that provides an even more immersive musical experience.
Arresting sound, ingenious design
The Bartók APEX retains the original’s powerful, dynamic and detailed soundscape and adds elements of resolution and refinement previously only achievable with the Rossini or Vivaldi APEX. dCS engineered Bartók APEX to inform and inspire.
APEX sets a new benchmark for transparency. It organically resolves the finest details and uncovers textures and subtleties that most systems overlook. From the broadest dynamic swings in volume to the subtlest shifts in tone, Bartók APEX reveals each aspect of a recording with a sense of effortless refinement and control.
Designed and hand-assembled at our headquarters in Cambridgeshire, England, Bartók APEX is born from meticulous craft, exhaustive development, and obsessive attention to detail—a relentless pursuit of musical purity that has inspired us to reimagine the limits of sound reproduction.
Sharing the same electronics as our Vivaldi and Rossini systems, it features the latest generations of our pioneering Ring DAC™ APEX, clocking architecture, and digital processing platform —a unique combination of hardware and software unrivalled in its sonic and technical performance.
Bartók APEX combines precision engineering with an elegant and timeless aesthetic. Standard-setting build quality means Bartók APEX withstands even the most intensive use and reliably delivers superb sound quality at all volume settings and outputs. With flexible and upgradable software and hardware, Bartók can grow and evolve, providing a state-of-the-art listening experience for years to come.
APEX is a new, enhanced version of the dCS Ring DAC: the Digital to Analogue conversion system found inside all dCS DACs. First developed for our professional audio products, this unique system has been subject to continuous development and refinement over the past three decades, and remains renowned for its technical and sonic performance.
With APEX, we’ve reconfigured the Ring DAC’s circuit board and developed a new analogue output stage. This has allowed us to further reduce distortion, and increase linearity, resulting in a range of measured and sonic improvements – including an even greater sense of dynamic drive, detail, finesse and vitality.
Designed for ease of use and superior sound, the Bartók APEX can flex to serve whatever mood or music you ask it to. With its wide range of inputs and outputs, high-performance UPnP streamer, and extensive choice of filters, it offers limitless capabilities and an effortless listening experience.
Compatible with all major file formats, it provides instant access to music from a wide range of streaming services, including Roon, TIDAL, Spotify, Qobuz, Deezer and Internet Radio. It also plays files direct from personal devices or storage drives via USB, AES or S/PDIF inputs, and from Apple devices using Apple Airplay.
Its streaming interface supports all major lossless codecs, plus DSD in native and DoP formats, and ensures true 24-bit resolution audio when streaming via Ethernet. Playback is easily managed via our Mosaic app, which allows you to access music from multiple sources and adjust the settings on your system through a single, intuitive interface.
Available on all Android and iOS devices, the Mosaic control app is supported by a powerful processing platform that runs on custom code developed by dCS. This software-driven design means its performance can be upgraded and enhanced over time, allowing us to add new streaming functionalities as platforms and services develop.
Bartók APEX DAC with Headphone Amplifier Key Features
- Latest generation dCS Digital Processing Platform brings state-of-the-art signal processing and flexibility
- dCS Ring DAC™ fitted, as used in the dCS Vivaldi digital playback system
- High-quality streaming from TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer and internet radio via the dCS Mosaic Control app
- Roon Ready, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and UPnP compatible
- USB, AES, Dual AES and S/PDIF digital audio inputs
- Headphone amplifier with balanced and unbalanced outputs, suitable for high and low impedance headphones
- Accepts encrypted SACD data from dCS Transports via Dual AES inputs. Oversampling design with switchable DSD upsampling; user-selectable PCM and DSD filters
- Multi-stage DXD oversampling design with switchable DSD upsampling; user-selectable PCM and DSD filters
- Auto clocking system improves ease of use and minimises jitter
- Multi-stage power regulation and twin mains transformers to isolate the DAC section from the headphone amplifier
- Firmware-upgradeable for future functionality and performance upgrades
- Upsampling Network DAC with Headphone Amplifier
- Silver or Black
- 444mm / 17.5” x 430mm / 17.0” x 115mm / 4.6“. Allow extra depth for cable connectors
- 16.7kg / 36.8lbs
- dCS proprietary Ring DAC™ topology
- Ethernet network port on RJ45 connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; USB 2.0 interface on B-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DoP format; USB On-The-Go interface on A-type connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD128 in DFF/DSF format; 2 x AES/EBU inputs on 3-pin female XLR connectors, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x Dual AES pair, accepts 24-bit 88.2 – 384kS/s PCM, DSD/64 & DSD/128 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on RCA Phono connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF on BNC connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 192kS/s PCM & DSD/64 in DoP format; 1 x SPDIF optical on TOSLINK connector, accepts 24-bit 44.1 – 96kS/s PCM
- 1 x pair balanced outputs on 2 x XLR connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 3Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended); 1 x pair unbalanced outputs on 2 x RCA connectors. Output levels: 0.2V, 0.6V, 2V, 6V rms for a full-scale input, set in the menu. Output impedance: 52Ω. Maximum load: 600Ω (10k-100kΩ is recommended)
- 1 x stereo balanced output 4-pin male XLR connector; 1 x stereo unbalanced output on 6.35mm (1/4”) 3-pole jack. Full-scale output levels: 1.4W rms into 33Ω, 0.15W rms into 300Ω. Minimum headphone impedance: 33Ω
- 2 x Word Clock Inputs on 2 x BNC connectors, accept standard Word Clock at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz. The data rate can be the same as the clock rate or an exact multiple of the clock rate. Sensitive to TTL levels. 1 x Word Clock Output on 1x BNC connector. With Sync Mode set to Master, a TTL-compatible Word Clock is output
- Full decoding and rendering of MQA data from the Network and USB2 inputs. Final rendering of unfolded MQA data only from the other inputs
- 24-bit data: Better than –113dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz unweighted (6V output setting)
- Better than -115dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz
- Better than -105dB0, 20Hz – 20kHz
- PCM mode: up to 6 filters give different trade-offs between the Nyquist image rejection and the phase response. DSD mode: 4 filters progressively reduce out-of-audio band noise level, plus Filter 5 which has an improved transient response
- User selectable PCM upsampling to DXD, DSD or DSDx2
- Download and update functionality available via dCS Mosaic Control app
- dCS Mosaic Control app for unit configuration and playback. RS232 interface (controlled by a 3rd party automation system). dCS Universal Remote is available as an optional extra
- Factory set to either 100, 115/120, 220 or 230/240V AC 50/60Hz
- 30 Watts typical / 50 Watts maximum
The Bartók APEX custom headphone amplifier is the embodiment of our uncompromising approach to design. Starting with the dCS analogue output stage, benchmark performance is maintained with true Class A operation through its balanced and unbalanced outputs.
Engineered to deliver a spectacular experience on both high and low impedance headphones, in balanced and unbalanced formats, it is able to handle a vast range of headphone models regardless of efficiency or impedance.
Its design also features dedicated power supplies for analogue and digital processing, which are isolated from the DAC section of the system for enhanced precision with minimal crosstalk and noise.
This unique architecture allows us to deliver a powerful and transparent performance that uncovers the unique character and potential of your chosen headphones.
Headphone use is simple: just plug in your chosen pair, switch the line output and adjust volume levels using the volume dial or our Mosaic control app (no need for a separate preamp). With a choice of four adjustable gain settings, you can adjust its performance to suit your setup, ensuring optimal sound across a vast range of systems.
Along with its groundbreaking amplifier, the Bartók APEX Headphone DAC features a unique processing platform that reimagines how sound is optimised for headphones. Expanse is an optional feature that can be engaged with a wide range of stereo recordings to provide a heightened sense of realism, and a greater sense of space and depth.